Joint statement from Kent County Council and Medway Council’s Directors of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark and James Williams.
The government has launched three new levels of restrictions, applicable to the whole country from Wednesday onwards. While we recognise cases are rising across Kent and Medway, at this time, it would appear that Local Authorities in the South East will be classified in the Medium Tier. This is the lowest level possible. This means that residents and businesses in Kent and Medway will not be subject to further restrictions, than are currently in place for areas deemed Medium risk.
We will of course ensure that our outbreak management plans and any actions taken, now align with the Government’s new instructions, and we welcome the publication of their published guidance to support the announcements made yesterday afternoon.
It is more important than ever that residents play their part to help protect themselves and others, particularly the most vulnerable members of the community who are most at risk from severe symptoms, and continue to follow the national guidelines.
We are continuing to work with our partners across Kent, including Public Health England local health protection teams and the NHS, to monitor where cases are occurring and whether there are larger widespread community outbreaks.
There is more testing available across the county and anyone experiencing Covid symptoms should self-isolate immediately and book a test. It is vital that the wider community in Kent continues to play its part and if you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service, then you should follow the guidance given to self-isolate.
We also appeal to people to remember social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing a mask in public places to help keep the number of cases as low as possible. You can now also download the NHS Test and Trace app. For more information go to www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent
The national picture:
The Prime Minister has set out how the government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England.
He confirmed the levels will be set at medium, high, and very high.
The “medium” alert level – which will cover most of the country – will consist of the current national measures, which came into force on 25 September. This includes the Rule of Six, and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
The “high” alert level will reflect many current local interventions, but there will now be consistency across the country.
The “very high” alert level will apply where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all the available data and the local situation.
Non-essential retail, schools and universities will remain open in all levels.
A postcode checker on gov.uk will show which alert level applies in each area and the NHS COVID-19 app will also direct people to this information.
Regulations for all three local alert levels will be debated and voted on in the House of Commons tomorrow. Subject to that vote tomorrow, they will come into force on Wednesday, subject to the approval of Parliament.
The PM also confirmed that the government will also provide Local Authorities across England with around £1 billion of new financial support.
Full details on what the COVID Alert Levels contain are set out below.
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium
This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. This means:
- All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
- Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.
- Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.
- Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
- Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed
- People must not meet in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors
Local COVID Alert Level – High
- This is for areas with a higher level of infections. This means the following additional measures are in place:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
- People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
Local COVID Alert Level – Very High
This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The Government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures.
The baseline means the below additional measures are in place:
- Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
- Wedding receptions are not allowed
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.